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How long does it take to cool a sample environment furnaces from 1000 degrees C to 80 degrees C? Answer: 4.5 hours. This wastes a lot of precious neutron beam time so what has SINE2020 been doing about it?
Many neutron experiments are performed in a vacuum and so sample environment equipment needs to be well-insulated—this causes a bit of a problem when you want to cool your sample back down. The laws of physics just get in the way! The last few hundred degrees are particularly difficult and slow. Currently the routine is to fill the furnace once it gets to 150°C with a gas, let the temperature cool and level, and then evacuate this hotter gas before refilling the vessel once more. The filling process is manual and the whole process is time-consuming.
Team - ISIS - Neutron - Muon - Source
Fortunately, a team at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source have been working on this problem to make the process quicker and more efficient.
Their first step was to establish the maximum temperature the gas could be let into the furnace without over heating the outer tail. After a series of tests this was established at 500°C. The next stage was to set up a flow of cooling gas instead of using the batch process described above. This allows the gas to remove the heat as it flows through. The team tried several types of gases: helium, argon and nitrogen, at both room temperature and cooled through a liquid nitrogen cooling loop, but discovered that the traditional gas used, helium, was the best (this is reclaimed after the cooling process so it does not waste helium).
Flow - Rate - Ie - Rate - Cooling
Next they investigated the best flow rate to use i.e. the rate that would provide the fastest cooling. Too fast and it will not dissipate the heat very well while too slow and it...
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